Comic Review: Spider-Man: The Revenge of the Sinister Six

Published: 1991-1992
Written by: Erik Larsen, Terry Kavanagh
Art by: Erik Larsen, Scott McDaniel

Marvel Comics, 165 Pages

Review:

I was really digging re-reading all the earliest Sinister Six storylines. But then I got to this one, the third of the three I wanted to re-experience and it really took the wind out of my sails.

This was a complete clusterfuck, narratively speaking.

I guess there is a big difference between the skill level of David Michelinie and Erik Larsen when it comes to writing. The two teamed up for the storyline, The Return of the Sinister Six, a year earlier in The Amazing Spider-Man. In this arc, Larsen took the reigns pretty much solo, as he had been moved to the Spider-Man title while Michelinie was still working on The Amazing Spider-Man with artist Mark Bagley. While that great duo were introducing us to Carnage, Larsen gave us this mess.

The biggest problem with this miniseries, is that it seemed like Larsen was using it as a way to feature and draw all the characters he wasn’t able to touch before this. This is a cameo bonanza in the worst way and many of these characters enter the story just for the hell of it and don’t serve much purpose to the overall narrative. It’s like Larsen just wanted to draw splash pages of the Hulk, Ghost Rider, the Fantastic Four, and a billion different villains. We also get a small and incredibly pointless cameo from Sleepwalker, one of my favorite ’90s characters.

Larsen’s art here was pretty damn solid, I have to give him that. He has a very distinct style and people either love it or hate it, similar to the style of Rob Liefeld. I have mostly liked Larsen’s style and this was interesting to see, as he did this right before jumping ship to Image Comics and his own creation, The Savage Dragon.

I do have to say that Larsen’s writing improves once he goes to Image and I’m thinking that he knew he was leaving when he took on this project and he felt that it was the only chance he would get to draw a lot of these characters.

To put it bluntly though, this story is ’90s as fuck and I don’t mean that complimentary. It’s trying really damn hard to be edgy. In fact, in the final battle all the villains are shooting machine guns like common street thugs while Spider-Man is wearing all this expensive, over the top, ’90s style tech. Hell, Spidey even gets a cyborg arm in this.

Also, the Sinister Six isn’t really even fully formed. Sandman is not on the team and is trying to get the other villains to stop Doctor Octopus. So really, this is the Sinister Five but then they bring in the giant beast Gog. So is he the sixth member now? It’s not really clear and it’s just one of many things that makes this story total chaos.

This was bad, dreadfully bad. I remembered liking it when it originally came out but I was also thirteen years-old and way more into the visual side of comics over having a coherent plot.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original Sinister Six story, as well as the prequel to this one, The Return of the Sinister Six. Also, anything from the Michelinie and Larsen run on The Amazing Spider-Man.

Comic Review: Aquaman, Vol. 4: Underworld

Published: November 20th, 2018
Written by: Dan Abnett
Art by: Stjepan Sejic

DC Comics, 156 Pages

Review:

I’ve been a fan of Dan Abnett’s run on Aquaman. But this story didn’t hit the mark for me like the first few arcs did. Strangely, a lot of people told me that this story was a real highpoint.

This just seemed like an episode of Game of Thrones, a show that I’m not much of a fan of. What I mean by that is this features a lot of talking and plotting and conspiracies about thrones and whatnot. There isn’t enough action and the antagonists just seem like throwaway generic Aqua-villains who will never be seen again, at least not in a meaningful way that gives weight to their characters.

I respect that Abnett tried to add to the mythology with his own creations and by bringing in long forgotten characters like Dolphin, as well as the rarely used former Aqualad, Tempest.

However, it gets too far away from the great work that Abnett was doing with the three volumes before this one. This series started off with a hell of a bang and this chapter in the saga pretty much lulled me to sleep.

The final issue in this arc gave us some action but by that point, I was just ready to wrap this thing up.

It’s not that this is a bad comic story or that it isn’t necessary, it just felt like an arc that could have been whittled down to one or two filler issues. It really disrupted the energetic pace of the series and while sometimes a breather is needed, if done too soon, it can bring things to a halt.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: anything from Dan Abnett’s glorious run on Aquaman, as well as the Drowned Earth crossover event.

Comic Review: Lone Wolf

Published: March, 2019
Written by: Doug Garrett
Art by: Jeff Lasley, David AJ Berner, Eugen Betivu

Gravestone Press, 22 Pages

Review:

I backed this comic book on Indiegogo a few months ago and it’s creator Doug Garrett seems like a cool guy. So I was really excited to find this in my mail box, last week.

This is the first issue of what is to be a bigger story arc. I’m not sure if this is a miniseries or if Garrett has a lengthier run in mind.

For a first issue, it does its job pretty effectively. We meet the main character, learn and understand his backstory and we get to see what sort of world he lives in. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, as I believe you can still order this and it’s definitely worth the price tag when compared to other crowd funding indie comic campaigns out there.

I really dug the art style and it does wonders setting the tone for the narrative. It has a raw, gritty look to it but it is done with skill and certainly doesn’t look amateur, rushed or below the typical indie standard.

I have to be pretty discriminatory, as new crowd funded comics pop up on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, daily. But for the price point and for how Garrett interacts with his potential customers, I wanted to support this. I have no buyer’s remorse and if anything, I look forward to what Garrett releases next.

Really, there isn’t much I can pick apart about this comic and usually with crowd funded stuff, there’s a lot that I can critique. All I can say, which isn’t really even negative, is that this looks really good for a first effort, much better than a lot of first effort indie books, and Garrett and his creative team are only going to improve from here.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent crowd funded releases.

Comic Review: The Eternals by Jack Kirby, Vol. 1

Published: 1976-1978
Written by: Jack Kirby
Art by: Jack Kirby

Marvel Comics, 199 Pages

Review:

I have never read The Eternals. However, with it getting a movie adaptation in a few years and because I Iove when Jack Kirby does cosmic stories, I thought that delving into this was long overdue.

This was a hell of a lot of fun. I loved this first volume in the series, which serves to setup the Eternals pocket of the larger Marvel universe. Like all cosmic things by Kirby, this series has an incredibly rich mythos that just showcases how great Kirby’s imagination was.

The Eternals reads like a comic book that is truly written with love. Reading through every single panel, I could tell that Kirby was committed to this project and loving every second that he spent creating this vivid and dynamic world.

The art is so detailed and ornate. I have no idea how the man was able to put books like this out monthly, while also working on multiple projects. Everything looks pristine and perfect and this is one of the most “Kirby” creations of all-time.

In a lot of ways, this is like Marvel’s version of the Fourth World stuff that Kirby did at DC Comics just a few years earlier. However, Kirby seems to have taken what he learned from his experience on his DC books and refined that knowledge, giving The Eternals an edge over most of that stuff. Sure, there’s no Darkseid or Mister Miracle here but the overall experience of reading this just feels more fleshed out and written with greater purpose.

This reminds me a lot of what Jack Kirby did with his ten issue 2001: A Space Odyssey series. It has a lot of similarities to that but this seems less experimental and like it is building towards a real defined purpose. Maybe that’s because 2001 was essentially an anthology but I feel like this is where everything for Kirby just clicked in the right way.

I really dig this universe, I was especially blown away by the Celestials. Frankly, I can’t wait to read the second volume.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the second volume of this series, as well as any of Jack Kirby’s cosmic stuff at Marvel or DC.

Comic Review: Suicide Squad: Black Files

Published: November 7th, 2018 – April 3rd, 2019
Written by: Mike W. Barr, Jai Nitz
Art by: Phil Briones, various

DC Comics, 260 Pages

Review:

I didn’t really know what this miniseries was going to be about when it came out, I just knew that it was full of a lot of characters, many of whom were new to the Suicide Squad.

What this is, is a miniseries where each double-sized issue is broken into two halves, telling two six issue story arcs. Although, they are somewhat joined as this serves to closeout the Suicide Squad team that’s been around for a few years while introducing the readers to a new team, who seem to be in line for an upcoming series of their own.

While this series was going on, the regular, monthly Suicide Squad comic came to an end with it’s 50th issue.

The two stories here were pretty decent but nothing exceptional. Between the two plot threads, I preferred the one centered around the newer team. So I guess that’s good, considering that they seem to be taking over as the primary Suicide Squad soon.

But I don’t know if this miniseries was enough to entice me to buy the new team’s books. I may give it a whirl and see how I feel about it after a few months but I was getting burnt out on the regular Suicide Squad title before it even got to it’s 50th issue finale.

If anything, the new team feels kind of like the Suicide Squad equivalent to the Justice League Dark. I’m kind of getting bored with Justice League Dark too, even though it started with a mighty bang.

Ultimately, it just feels as if a lot of the DC titles seem aimless, as of late. I don’t know where any of them are going and I’m not sure that there’s much of a cohesive plan by editorial.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the regular Suicide Squad series before it and I’m assuming an upcoming Suicide Squad Black series to follow up with the events here.

Comic Review: Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War

Published: April 20th, 2016
Written by: Mike Johnson
Art by: Angel Hernandez, Stephen Molnar
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry, characters from DC Comics

IDW Publishing, DC Comics, 156 Pages

Review:

I hoped this would be a cool comic book series but I already found it a bit of an eye roller when I saw that they used the Kelvin timeline cast, as opposed to the likeness and style of the original cast and it’s version of Star Trek.

Anyway, I don’t hate the Kelvin movies, as you may know after reading my recent reviews on those films. However, why use Kelvin shit if you don’t have to?

So Ganthet dies and with his death, he rips a hole in spacetime. This conveniently brings several Lantern rings into the Star Trek Kelvin universe. The Enterprise crew finds Ganthet’s corpse and the rings and pretty quickly the rings come to life and choose their bearers. One of which is General Chang of the Klingon Empire, in what would be his first Kelvin timeline appearance. Some may remember him as the great villain from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

This story rehashes concepts from the Blackest Night storyline and just brings those concepts into the Kelvin timeline. We have multiple Lantern villains show up like Sinestro, Atrocitus and Larfleeze. We also get new evil ring bearers: a Romulan and a Gorn. But the biggest twist with the Blackest Night concept is when Black Lantern leader Nekron resurrects all the dead citizens of Vulcan, including Spock’s mother. While it was trying to make a big emotional impact on the reader, it felt cheap and pretty cheesy.

I had sincerely hoped that seeing two of my favorite franchises come together would be a fun story. This just felt like it was a lowest common denominator attempt at cashing in on yet another crossover.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequel, as well as Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes.

Film Review: Aquaman (2018)

Release Date: November 26th, 2018 (London premiere)
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns, James Wan
Based on: Aquaman by Paul Norris, Mort Weisinger
Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison, Djimon Hounsou, Julie Andrews (voice), John Rhys-Davies (voice)

Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, The Safran Company, Cruel and Unusual Films, Mad Ghost Productions, 143 Minutes

Review:

“You think you’re unworthy to lead because you’re of two different worlds? But that is exactly why you are worthy!” – Mera

People talked this movie up quite a bit when it came out but I didn’t see it in the theater because the holidays are busy for me and this is not a Tolkien movie.

But I had high hopes as several people I tend to trust told me that I’d like it. Well, they were wrong. I mean, I didn’t hate it and if you are comparing this to the other DCEU films, it’s actually the second best. However, that’s not a high threshold to try and beat.

First off, I like Jason Mamoa and I like Jason Mamoa in this movie. However, he’s basically playing Jason Mamoa and not Arthur Curry a.k.a. Aquaman. Well, at least not how Aquaman has been written for decades. And couldn’t he have gone blonde? He could’ve kept the long hair and beard, as Aquaman has had that look before but I guess Arnold Schwarzenegger did a good job of once playing Conan without brunette locks.

But the thing is, he doesn’t feel like Aquaman and he really just feels like a badass buff dude with similar powers to Aquaman.

I thought that Amber Heard was pretty on point as Mera, though. She needs a bit more confidence if she’s to be the tough as nails future queen but this was a good start, assuming they make more of these, which they probably will.

Most importantly, though, Mamoa and Heard had damn good chemistry and that’s what had to carry this movie and it was certainly a strength when everything else around it felt like aquatic Candyland.

Other than a handful of good actors, mainly Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Patrick Wilson and Temuera Morrison, the rest of the film was pretty lackluster and underwhelming.

It had action, it was fun for the most part, but a lot of the film felt too dragged out once you got to the middle. It had really good pacing for about 45 minutes but then the plot just seemed to be a mixture of different genres and this didn’t have a clear identity as to what it was. Some of these genre twists seemed like they were more in conflict with the film as a whole than being a collection of interesting ingredients there to make the dish taste better.

I didn’t like how Black Manta was handled and he’s just sort of a henchman and an afterthought in this film. He’s much more badass than that. Read Dan Abnett’s first few story arcs on his run of the Aquman comic. There, Black Manta was a dangerous terrorist that had Aquaman and Atlantis in the palm of his hand. I know that they introduced him in this film to build him up for later but I just don’t feel like they did it effectively and it’ll be hard to take him seriously as the big baddie when he was just portrayed as Mr. Laserface and then get knocked down a cliff. Plus, with his helmet on, the effect they used on his voice mixed with the actor’s line delivery, reminded me of Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

Patrick Wilson was pretty good as the Ocean Master but the way he was written was confusing. He’s willing to do pure evil to maintain his throne but he doesn’t seem to commit to the bit and he just sort of accepts his fate when his mom shows up and tells him to love his brother.

This film is an example of something being fun and entertaining but not being good and not being something that I particularly like. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again and that goes for all the films in the DCEU. But that also doesn’t mean that I won’t watch the sequel, I probably will but I doubt I’ll see that one in the theater either.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other recent DC Comics movies within the same shared universe.